IRC is an acronym for Internet Relay Chat, which is a pre-Web 1.0 chat protocol often used by those who take part in non-mainstream communities and websites.
- Developer: Jarkko Oikarinen
- Release Date: 08/1988
- Twitter: Unknown
- Known For:
IRC (Internet Relay Chat) is a custom chat protocol that allows people over the internet to communicate real-time. To chat with others you must connect to an IRC Server, usually belonging to a network of servers.
Users have the ability to connect to servers that use the IRC framework. There are large, public IRC networks such as Freenode and EFnet and smaller, independent networks that are used by a small group of friends. Private IRC servers are popular amongst old school internet users because they lend an aire of being "underground" or elite in some way. People who run their own IRC networks are generally full of themselves and can be prone to USI.
Once the user is connected they have several options. On each server, there is something called a "channel". A channel is basically a portion of the server that is sectioned off for a group of people to chat. For example, irc server X may have the channels #MetsFans, #Nerds, #Jocks. All IRC channels are prefaced with the "#" symbol. Channels are regulated by moderators known as operators (ops,0ps,opers). They enforce the rules of the channel, and if necessary hand out punishments for offenders breaking these rules such as "kicks" and "bans". On a higher level, there are special moderators known as IRCops. These people are basically the master of all IRC channels, and can hand out brutal punishments to people who break server rules.
IRC has countless servers and networks, some private and small, some public and large. A selection of IRC networks:
- SandNET - Run by the Association of Raged Arab Bloggers, Nutters, Emos, and Trolls (ARABNET).
- HardChats - Home of klulz, caretown and the GNAA.
- Terdlink - A fun place to chat if you like horses.
- Buttes - Where all your friends hang out.
- GroveNET - Another fun place to chat.
- GorfNets - A fun place to chat if you like gorfs.
- Anonymuncule - Created by Sherrod as a means for wiki editors to communicate also goes by ohinternet on mibbit.
- Helldive Network
- Freenode - Home of #wrongplanet
Known IRC Clients
To get on an IRC server you need a client program. Some IRC clients are for pay, others are free, some are Operating System specific.
- mIRC (Windows)
- ChatZilla (Cross-platform, firefox extension)
- HydraIRC (Windows)
- KVIrc (Windows & Linux)
- irssi (Cross platform)
- XChat (Windows, Linux, OS X [as XChat Aqua
- Colloquy (OS X)
- mibbit -
web-based client available in your browser window.Only noobs use Mibbit. You will get laughed at (and possibly banned).
- Linkinus (OS X)
- Snak (OS X)
- jmIrc (J2ME-enabled devices, such most cell phones)
- IceChat 7 (Windows)
People on IRC
- Channel founders, +q, have a "~" by their name, and are the creators of the IRC channel. They can change all channel settings and modes.
- Super-ops, aka +a or admins, have a "&" by their name, have the same powers as ops, can access some ChanServ commands, and cannot be kicked by normal ops.
- Ops, aka +o, have an "@" by their name. They can ban, kick, add and remove ops, change the topic, and make your life hell.
- Half ops, aka hops or +h, they have a "%" by their name. They can ban and kick, add and remove voice, change the topic and set a few modes.
- Voiced, or +v, have a "+". They are just regular users who we trust for the most part and have been there a while. Also, if the channel is set +m (moderated, basically mute) they and the +q, +a, +o and +h people can talk, while regular users can't. Being voiced is basically useless.
- A few channels set +v on join, usually if it's +m so that ops can remove voice from people who spam or whatever.
Oh Internet! now has an official IRC channel on Sherrod's own Anonymuncule server! Come on by for help with various wiki matters or just chat in the lobby with fellow OI users. Remember though that the channels hosted are NOT safe for work.
Jarkko Oikarinen created IRC in August 1988; he received inspiration from BITNET Relay, a chat program over BITNET. IRC was intended to replace MultiUser Talk (MUT), which was used on OuluBox, A Finnish BBS.
Active among those in the "know". IRC is where a lot of underground communication goes on. Because it is something set up by users and not corporations there is generally a "wild west" atmosphere and some channels and networks do not like strangers.
Often IRC can feel like it's own universe because it is used by a very specific kind of person, many with their own common injokes or vernacular. The key on IRC is to lurk in various channels, getting to know the common users and how the mood of the channel is and operates before jumping right in.
Going into technical help channels like #debian on freenode or #openbsd on Undernet can be tricky. A lot of users will find themselves slammed with multiple rtfm messages if they ask stupid or unresearched questions.
IRC has been used to quickly spread information - for instance in the Gulf War and in the 1991 coup attempt in Russia.